Jeff here..I know I don’t usually blog on here, Lauren has been amazing at it. But I wanted to take some time to share about some takeaways of our time at Paris. Now I could go on and discuss how amazing the food was and how beautiful the city was, which it was, but I really want to talk about some of the take aways from the conference.
It was so amazing to be able to attend the City to City Europe 2014 conference. We had heard about the City to City network from the pastors at our church, but we wanted to be able to experience the conference ourselves, to “network” with others and to explore what it would like to have a “network” here in Romania. I was quite impressed upon walking into the doors to hear and see so many countries and languages represented. Even though the conference was in English, you could hear German, French, Spanish, Italian, Greek and many other languages being spoken. As an American missionaries, we were definitely a minority. It was so encouraging to see 500 people from all over Europe gathering to share how the gospel is moving in their own countries.
II. A Different Type of Growth
Too often, we hear that the Church is dying here in Europe. Everyone has stories of the struggle of seeing so many people who maybe don’t have a relationship with God here, who have been hurt by legalism in the Church, or who are indifferent. But it was very interesting to hear from a university professor from the UK who studies the dynamics of religion in Europe. She is a professor of Sociology but is a member of the Church of England. She discussed how yes, there is a decline in the church in Europe, but it doesn’t look as negative as some might think.
She urged us to see a decline in inherited religion. This is the type of religion that we receive because of our family has always believed this. But there is a rise, while not enough to balance with the decline, in desiring to seek out personal religion. People in Europe are seeking now and it presents new opportunities for the Church in Europe.
III. Push and Pull
The main speaker of our conference was Tim Keller, which was very much a blessing. The amount of wisdom he has is immense. One of the main takeaways was in regards to churches and their interaction with culture. Too often churches like to live in extremes.
Finding the balance was a huge take-a-way for myself.
Also, Tim talked about this idea of pushing and pulling. Too often, we, as the church, disregard and/or throw all aspects of culture out the window or we accept all culture as good and do not challenge anything. Tim shared the balance of accepting certain parts of culture, that is those parts that do not contradict Christian beliefs, and then using those cultural points to challenge and help others strive for closeness of Christ.
The church should be an illustration that people can come with their gifts and keep their uniqueness but also see that they are incomplete without Christ. Coming away from the conference we were so excited to see application points to our ministry here in Romania.
Our time in Paris was a great networking time, a great time to hear new ideas, and a time that we were challenged to think more about our lives here in Timisoara. How might you be challenged this year to push and think outside the box? How might you be challenged to live differently in your community, your workplace, your neighborhood, and within your family this year?
We pray this year that the Lord would push you all just as He is pushing us into new directions!